Pear, Apple and Cranberry Crisp
Open-Faced Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Sandwich
Smoked Salmon and Herb Butter
FINALLY, Ina acknowledges that she has a new barn. She’s giving a party to thank all the folks who worked on it. Great, this is just what we’ve been waiting for. I’m sure we’ll get a really good look. Maybe we’ll get to see the floor plans and designs. Maybe there will be an interview with the architects, who can talk about the vision they had for Ina’s new barn.
Oh, lookie here, she IS making smoked salmon. Sorry, Rachel, you may have been right.
We begin with a visit to Pike’s farm stand for the ingredients for the ribollita. What we want to see is the barn and she just keeps buying more fruits and vegetables and flowers.
She chops lots of onions and puts them in “a very big pot” (she isn’t kidding!) with ½ cup of olive oil. She appears to be doubling the recipe that’s on the website. She adds ½ lb chopped pancetta and cooks it until the onions are translucent and the pancetta starts to brown.
She shows us the beans that she’s soaked overnight and begun to cook for 45 minutes. She adds salt and cooks them for another 15 minutes. (By the way, if you have trouble with beans, read this.)
Ina chops up more vegetables - 2 cups each of carrots and celery and 12 cloves of garlic and adds that to the pot. Then she adds 2 TABLESPOONS of salt (I KNOW it’s a big pot, but yikes!), 2 teaspoons of pepper and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Ina stirs well (that isn’t easy) and cooks it another 7 to 10 minutes.
She slices up 8 cups of Savoy cabbage and 8 cups of kale and adds that to the pot with two 28 oz cans of tomatoes in purée. A beautiful bunch of basil gets chopped and a cup of that goes in.
Ina drains the beans, saving the liquid. She purées half of them and adds that to the soup to thicken it and the other half go in as they are with the cooking liquid. She also adds 12 cups of chicken stock. She continues simmering for 20 minutes.
Wait there’s more to add to the soup. She slices sourdough bread into 8 to 10 cups of cubes and adds THOSE, as well, to thicken the soup. She cooks that for 10 to 15 minutes. Hey, Ina, while the soup is cooking, why don’t you show us around a bit? Maybe she’s saving it for last.
She gets started on dessert – a pear and apple crisp with fruit from the fruit stand. She peels 2 lbs. of Macoun apples and 2 lbs. of Bosc pears and cuts them into pieces. She adds ¾ cup of dried cranberries and a teaspoon each of orange and zest followed by 2 teaspoons of their juices. Then ½ cup sugar and ¼ cup flour go in to “create a delicious goop in the middle.” Lastly 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon (jarred) nutmeg are added. Ina stirs everything together and fills 12 small ramekins rather full, about 1 cup in each one. She tells us how she loves the smell of the apples and spice in the air when guests arrive…That would be a nice to smell as we looked around the new digs…
For the crumble part, she mixes 1½ cups flour, ¾ cup light brown sugar, ¾ cup white sugar, a bit of salt and 1 cup oatmeal together in mixer, adding ½ lb diced room temperature butter. She piles that on top of each ramekin, remarking how special it is to have individual servings. Those go into the fridge and then into a 350° F. oven for 45 to 50 minutes.
Ina attends to the serving table. She loads on huge pumpkins, sunflowers and a big bowl of apples. She gets a cheese tray ready, which she always serves with 3 cheeses: blue, cheddar (to go with the apples) and a soft brie. Now would be a good time for a look-see, wouldn’t it?
Ina is making an herb butter to go on bread with the aforementioned smoked salmon. She smashes ½ lb unsalted butter in a bowl and adds ¼ teaspoon of minced garlic (why not just use a garlic press?) 1 tablespoon of finely chopped scallions (why not use a food processor?) and 1 tablespoon each of chopped dill and chopped parsley (ditto about the food pro). Then Ina stirs in 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.
I guess it DOES look better when chopped by hand, than pulverized in the processor. But I would still use a garlic press. On the topic of garlic, when I’m using it raw, in salad dressings or a flavored butter that isn’t getting cooked, I always remove the green stem in the center of the garlic clove. (It’s still white if you have relatively fresh garlic.) It may be a wife’s tale (I refuse to say OLD) that that’s where the particularly strong aftermath of garlic flavor comes from, but if it’s even 1% true, why not just remove it?
Ina slices nice whole grain bread pretty thinly. She takes out an Atlantic salmon “done in the Scottish style”. Prior to smoking, all salmon are brined with a cure of salt and sometimes sugars and spices. There are two common methods of brining. The first method is "dry brining," also referred to as Scottish style. It consists of using a mixture of salt and sometimes sugars, spices and other flavorings applied directly to the meat of the fish. Once the fish is dry brined for a period of time, the brine mixture is then rinsed off, and the fish is ready to be smoked. Brining times will vary depending upon the species and size of the fish. The second type of brine is called "wet brine." Wet brined fish is placed in a solution of water, salt and other sugars and spices prior to smoking.
Ina slices long thin slices off the end of the salmon. As she slices, she lays them upside down overlapping. She leaves a bit of the fish intact to act as a strong base for the thin slices. Now, she replaces each piece back on the fish in the reverse order that she sliced them. Are you with me? Basically, she’s putting the fish back the way it was. She decorates it with fresh dill, lemon and plenty of black pepper. It goes on to the table with the bread and herb butter. Could we have a wider angle please, to see exactly how the room is situated?
For sandwiches, Ina slices tomatoes and fresh mozzarella about 1/8 inch thick. She’s using cow’s milk mozzarella, rather than buffalo, because she says it’s a bit firmer and better for this purpose.
She slices ciabatta in half lengthwise and spreads STORE-BOUGHT pesto on each half. (C’mon, Ina, you didn’t have a batch in the freezer? Now that you prob’ly have 5 freezers, it shouldn’t be a problem. See how nasty I’m sounding, because we haven’t gotten our tour?) She arranges the tomato and mozzarella slices over and tucks in pieces of fresh basil. She seasons with salt and pepper and places the sandwiches on wooden boards, to allow her guests to cut whatever size pieces they wish. Everything looks gorgeous.
Ina heats up the soup, puts the crumble in the oven and gets out a big bowl of parmesan and a bottle of olive oil to sit alongside the soup.
It’s party-time. The champers are opened, folks are eating heartily. That looks like a lot more than 12 people. The space does create a cavernous sound. The camera is kept tight on the food and the people, never allowing a good glimpse of the interior.
The soup is served in white mugs. “Thank you so much everybody. I love it! We’ll be partying here for a long time,” toasts the Contessa. We wish you well, too, Ina, but please, PLEASE can we see, in close-up, this amazing space that everyone has worked on so diligently??? Not this week, I guess.